Sunday, April 23, 2017

Great Love

                                          An Original Rendering of My Great Love


“Emptiness is not a great loss. It creates a great opportunity to fill yourself again and again with great love.” ― Debasish Mridha

This is not
a chance to
re-write my
life story,
but to
embellish it,
to capitalize on
a great love
that is
infused in every cell
enriching
who I am today,
and with God's
healing and succor
who I will become.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

wooing a girl

He knew how to woo a girl.  A composer and a musician, he wrote me songs and played them for me. In front of our family and friends, while I could barely speak because I was overcome with emotion, this man played his guitar and sang me a song during our wedding ceremony. He also was a cook, a handy dandy fix it man, he cleaned and changed diapers. He fiercely loved his parents, his siblings and his children. He loved the island that he grew up on and had first hand knowledge of all the crooks and crannies and together we would go on wild adventures on mountaintops or sometimes on water.  He would try anything and convince you he knew what he was doing.  He built our first home; he had never built a house before.  Without the ease of electricity, he built it by himself with hand tools.  We were into smaller homes without a mortgage before it was a fashionable thing to do.

Today, I treated myself to a pedicure.  As the attendant was applying lotion and massaging my feet, I choked back tears.  My husband gave me regular foot massages.  Some may characterize me as demanding, but my sweet husband never denied me a foot massage.  Never. Since his passing, it is the daily human touch that I miss most. I am accustomed to daily hugs and kisses.  Now, instead I get morning kisses from my dog Rex and nudges from my sweet cat Charlie, but it isn't the same.

For 37 years I was with a man who woke me with kisses and a variation of,
"Good morning Beautiful.  I love you."  How fortunate that we were partners in this life.  And I was so well loved.

I believe that he continues to love me for how else could I manage?

Friday, April 21, 2017

what's a girl to do?

No wonder I know nothing about it.  When my mother was trying to explain in the middle of Grant's Department store, I slunk away.  Embarrassed that I would see a girl in my class or worse, a boy.

Within the last year, my husband helped me loop string around myself. We carefully cut the string and measured it using a yard stick.  He explained it all to me, but I still don't get it.  Maybe I still didn't care.  I had him; he understood; that was all that mattered, at the time.

"What size am I again?" I asked him as we both looked through the bras at TJ Maxx.

Honestly, I could care less about bras; for years opting for the one size fits all variety that has little charm or appeal, but does the job.

"How do you know all this?" I asked as I searched for the appropriate size as determined by my husband.  

"I dated a lot of girls before I met you," he replied.

Still this gave me little understanding of how he knew this.  Did he talk about bras over jello for dessert (his dessert specialty while we were dating)?  Certainly, this never came up in our conversations.  The truth is I will never know, since I didn't press him further.

Now, I wear bras that my husband chose for me.  Every morning I chuckle to think of the irony of it all.  He had good taste and he knew a thing about comfortable fitting bras that look pretty darn nice. They make me feel beautiful.  I wonder, now what am I going to do without him. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Progress

This morning I spent hours and hours looking for something.  I didn't find it.  The problem is that I have absolutely no recollection of what I did with it. I can't find the list of people I wanted to send thank you notes to either.  Full admission here, I also lost things before, but a brain operating under the weight of loss gets little relief.  If I didn't read the literature about grief and talk to others who are widows and widowers, I would think that I am ready to convalesce with someone to assist me with functional living.  The upside is that I found an art journal text that I was looking for and I located a sweater (a favorite) that I forgot I had.

Despite my frustration, I am told I am doing well.  It is important that I put things into perspective. I can now carry on a conversation and speak in full sentences.  Most nights, I sleep through the night.  I can now take naps, whereas before I was too agitated and restless. I am now able to read whole books and sit and write for hours at a time. Financially, I am holding my head above water by myself.  I am able to hold a job and get up each morning.  I am a single mother and I am able to feed, shelter and clothe my youngest who is still at home.  Asking for help and delegating responsibility has never been a problem for me.  I am able to hold onto a few dreams that my husband and I had together.  I guess all this is progress.  I am grateful for all the loving thoughts coming my way.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

is there presence in absence?

Her absence is the sky, spread over everything. -CS Lewis




We didn't have long to get use to the brevity of Jerry's life.  A week maybe.  Even then, we all thought that the "ox of a man" that he was would somehow pull through.

Still through the news, I tried hard to stay positive and in the present.  Now and again, while still in Boston, I would wonder through our house in my head, anticipating the emptiness, the pain.  I could not bear to dwell there for long.

It is true that I feel the absence of my husband in the home that he built and the house we raised our children.  Yet, I also feel peace.  I am drawn here.   It is familiar.  It represents my life.

Like Lewis felt his wife's absence in everything and everywhere, I feel Jerry's absence where ever I am. I carry it with me whether I am in the car, roaming the halls of the high school or running into the grocery store for fruit and milk.  His absence presents itself as a nagging, constant dull ache in the center of my heart.  I am reminded of him while I am cutting fruit, baking bread or making the morning coffee.  He is constantly on my mind whether I am brushing my teeth, putting on make-up or sweeping the floor.

I feel his absence all the time.  Does this pain I carry thwart my ability to feel his presence? Or do I feel his presence in his absence?





Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Time Stood Still




He opened the choke, pulled the cord
it took a few times
before we were headed down
the pond
slowly,
he trolled for fish
through the no-wake zone.

The stern
was loaded with gear,
fishing poles,
tackle boxes
with sinkers, bobbers
and the latest and greatest
lures,
the bow was weighted down
with a canvas bag loaded with
books, magazines
a journal,
water,
snacks
sunscreen and natural bug repellent-
ready for the long haul.

Once in the open water
the boat sped passed
islands
rounded mountains ahead
evergreens shadowed,
we motored along
the outboard robbing
our sense of hearing,
sights heightened
thick trees as far as we could see
on either side of the water.

We headed in the direction of the beach
mounded with bits of pink granite,
he killed the engine in a cove across the way,
water lilies dotted the area
a warm breeze lifted the sweet scent,
he dressed his line with a worm,
flicked the pole,
the line reaching,
the boat drifted
and he paddled us
into the perfect position
where he swore he was going to
catch a fish,
while I snapped photos of the lilies,
read, journaled
leaned my back against the bow,
watching my husband
so happy
the sun shining on us,
as time
stood still.




Monday, April 17, 2017

Home

Winter clothes crowd my suit case,
I fully expected to walk along the beach
scarf wrapped
warming,
my boots sinking
deep into the sand,
but
instead,
I walked barefooted,
closing my eyes
pretending it was summer.

Whenever I visit home
I walk the beaches
where as a kid
I dug deep holes
until they pooled with water,
collected shells and sand dollars,
the expanse of ocean stretching to the
thin horizon line,
I imagined
floating out
to sea.


I am drawn to the sea.
Here I am home.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Reformed

He was a drunk.

I know the facts,
I know.
He was always
striving for perfection
as an imperfect human,
an internal storm
spewed sadness and anger.

How do you tell someone
that he was so much more?
When I was little he liked
to hold me in his lap,
and later during my teen years
we went to Fenway together.
He made the best fish chowder,
he liked his coffee black
and he had an infinity for
fluff or whipped cream and fruit
on his pancakes.
He loved to travel now and again,
He loved family weddings
and he was drawn to the work of
Andrew Wyeth,
And in the last few decades of his life
he gave up drinking,
he softened.


The word
drunk
assaulted me,
saddened me,
how can
one word
define
a person?
I prefer
reformed.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Kitchen Charm

Until my sister mentioned it earlier today, I had forgotten that my husband liked brown and serve rolls.  Fortunately, I cannot remember the last time I popped them into the oven for 5 minutes and smeared on a generous pad of butter in a futile attempt to improve the taste.  Over the years, I'd like to think that I had a hand in refining my husband's palette.

In high school I began baking bread using a cold raising technique.  Early in our marriage, I discovered  a versatile potato dough that morphed into dinner rolls or yummy cinnamon rolls.  They would regularly appear as part of our weekend menus.  It has been years since I last made this recipe and it has been years since I last made anything remotely resembling bread because all control is for naught.

I was asked to make dinner rolls for Easter dinner and I found a new recipe to try.   Tonight as I cut the dough and gently pulled the rolls into shape, I thought of my husband; grateful for all those years I was able to charm him in the kitchen.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Off News


Life is overwhelming
enough,
I am off news,
but I caught glimpses
of PBS News
at a friend's house
the other night
and
learned about the bomb.

Fox News blares
while I get my car
serviced,
the more I try
to avoid listening
the more I hear-
strange thing.

This morning
I talked with a kindergartener
about chickadees and
hardwood trees
as we meandered
through the forest
with every student
and
adult
in my school
celebrating Earth Day
Arbor Day
beginning the day with
a hike.

I am off news
preferring the views of the
world
from a 6 year old perspective,
I like it that way.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Impossible

One by one
I pop them into
my mouth,
M & M's
too easy to lose track
of the number consumed,
the chocolate breaks through
the hard shell
and melts in my mouth
I barely notice the taste.

I roll a red one between my fingers
and I talk,
my brain sparks
shooting random thoughts
then becomes slow and sluggish.
I talk of love lost,
barely talked-about
grief,
often misunderstood.

I read original poems,
my broken heart
spills onto the page,
my friends are silent-
overcome.

We talk of life
of love
and we part
knowing that what
we all had was something
that is hard to describe
and impossible to replace.






The Peace of the Wild Things

                                                                                  Photo by Travelinma

When despair for the world grows in me
 and I wake in the night at the least sound
 in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
 I go and lie down where the wood drake
 rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
 I come into the peace of wild things
 who do not tax their lives with forethought
 of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
 And I feel above me the day-blind stars
 waiting with their light. For a time
 I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
                                                                -Wendell Berry




Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Importance of Being

"How do we know about those around us?...Sit close to someone you love and implore that person to tell and tell and tell their story. " -Thanhha Lai


Everyone holds stories that reveal bits of themselves. If we only take the time to connect and listen.

After losing the big love of my life, I find I crave connection. Now, I sit for hours and visit with friends and family. It reminiscent of college days when I would sit in the dorm and talk and talk until the wee hours of the morning. Life seemed to stretch out ahead of us, unending; we thought we had all the time in the world, and nothing was more important than those connections.

Settled into the comfort of married life, if invited out, we would often decline. Instead we would stretch out on either end of the couch reading or go for a long walks holding hands. (This was not only romantic, but an attempt to moderate my husband's long strides.) I didn't want for more. We had each other.

Now, my heart yearns to reach out to others. I collect stories. I collect them over dinner. I collect while grabbing handfuls of homemade popcorn seasoned with brewer's yeast and dill and lament the tini-ness of Tiny Houses, swoon in the rich sound of my Yamaha guitar and talk fermented foods. I listen to the dreams of my daughter, the nursing student or the training of a soldier, my son. I connect while sipping herbal tea, listen to travel plans, and spiritual matters. Jerry stories are a constant.

Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.-Mohsin Hamid
As I connect with others, gather collective stories and share and listen to Jerry stories, I am discovering myself and beginning to build my future alone.

Each day is a gift. In the face of death, my husband chose to thank God for each day. Through this journey we both rediscovered of the importance of connecting with others and practicing love. I choose to connect with my heart. I want to know about those around me. In knowing others, I begin to understand myself and all that is possible.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Brave

Some call me brave,
I am not brave.
I am choice-less.

I measure my days 
by closing the curtains
to the street light,
sliding into a bed
that is much too big
and
waking again
by drawing the curtains
open
in the hopes of finding
some
light.

I am not brave.
I am choice-less.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sunday Hikes

                                            Jerry on a Sunday Hike-2016
                                     (Photo compliments of Alison Murdoch)

For the past year, Sundays have been devoted to long, long walks with friends.  In grief literature and talking with other survivors,  I was told that often the invitations just don't come anymore especially if you tended to do things as a couple with other couples.  I have been so fortunate.  That has not happened to me.  My friends still invite me to hike with them.  Today for instance, as we were hiking and sinking up to our knees in the last bit of snow, I quipped, "This is a Jerry thing.  These kinds of things happened all the time whenever I hiked with Jerry."  My friends know Jerry and how he operated, although for the most part he would behave himself on these Sundays.  For example historically, we'd often get lost. We'd be on a mountain top in the middle of an electrical storm.  He'd traverse us over boulders, roots and "raging" rivers. Seems after a time, I would have known better, but I always followed him and trusted.  You'd never know what would happen when Jerry left the house.  Does anyone have any Jerry stories?

Beautiful


                                                                             Blueberry Fields at Camp

The ice on the pond
thins,
logs are dropped into the belly
of the stove,
dogs doze
Pink Floyd plays,
I sip matcha,
a change of scene
does good to forget
and at the same time
remember,
you follow me where-ever
I go,
whatever I do
you remind me of what I had
and
what I have lost.
Then on the ride
home
the radio
plays
Lightfoot's 
Beautiful
and I cry
tears of gratitude
and
love.

Gordon Lightfoot was among Jerry's all time favorite musicians.  A few years ago, I brought Jerry to see Lightfoot for his birthday.  The line, so fitting: " I think that I was made for you and you were made for me."  How lucky am I? A rarity. And...Jerry called me Beautiful.



Saturday, April 8, 2017

I Don't Know

Stuck in a tornado of emotions,
Caught up in thoughts of sorrow, loneliness
And grief.
The dust bunnies multiply
I sit
My throat aches
And the tears tickle as they run.

How do I manage?
Day by day,
Yes,
But really how do I live without you
Month after month,
Year after year?
How?
I don't know.


Books Books and More Books

Piles of books teeter beside my chair where I watch the birds and sip my morning latte and then sit for afternoon tea.  More are beside my bed, while my shelves hold volumes.  Books are in my purse and in the car. It feels good to be able to read again, since my concentration has improved.  There was a time when I grew anxious about ever being able to read more than a Facebook post. For a short time I viewed myself as a fraud;I'm a reading teacher for goodness sakes who couldn't read more than a few sentences at a time. Thankfully, now I am reading and I am writing.  My concentration is improving. Relieved, I can authentically talk about my struggles with my students.  It gently reminds me just how much of the brain is robbed from chronic stress. I hope that this experience makes me a better teacher and human being.

Friday, April 7, 2017

A Full Bed


Ready for sleep, I see my bed is already full where one dog sometimes two, and three cats sleep.  With a sickly sweet tone I say, "Move over." Waiting a second for any sign of movement, I decide to turn down the covers and slide into bed anyway. Inch by inch I push my way with my legs into my own bed. I am teetering between the bed and the floor. "Impossible," I yell into the air and more gruffly order, "Move!" Nothing. I slip my hands under Rex's body and with all my strength I roll him over so I can get just a little room to sleep on my side in MY bed. Once I am fully on the bed, I realize that my 50 pound dog is on the top of the blankets and I can't cover to get cozy. Finally, I order him off the bed and quickly pull up the covers, my movements quick and jerky because I fear that I won't be settled  before he hops into bed again. This always ends with a chuckle.

The funny thing is this scenario plays much the same most nights, but it takes me by surprise each time it happens. A curious thing!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Questions and More Questions

From the way I have been talking anyone would think that H's death mattered chiefly for its effect on myself. Her point of view has seemed to have dropped out of sight. -CS Lewis, A Grief Observed

Even before I read the above quote, the exact notion had been on my mind for a long time.  My blog posts are all about me.  All about my pain and grief.  Twinges of guilt surface.  I am preoccupied with the complications of living alone in this world. Suddenly thoughts of Jerry are overshadowed, yet I think about him constantly.  It is hard to explain.

I know what images my Catholic upbringing creates for heaven, hell and limbo. The nuns used to give the impression that limbo was the worst-a place where there is no movement toward heaven and no movement closer to hell. My current understanding is that heaven is nearness to God and hell is remoteness from God and that limbo does not exist,but that prayers can aid the soul to progress closer to God.  While praying this morning I broke down.  A portion of the Prayer for the Departed caught in my throat, ".....dispel their sorrows, change their darkness into light..."  I have been saying this prayer a zillion times a day and only this morning, I wondered:  Is Jerry sorrowful?  Is Jerry in darkness?   All these months I have worried little about Jerry.  He is no longer in pain.  His health is restored.  He is near God.  He was not without faults (being a human), but suddenly I wonder, he is more than OK, right?

There has just been so much to deal with here on this earth.  Often I am overwhelmed.  So to compartmentalize my life and Jerry's new life with the trust that he is more than flourishing, I have been able to survive.  Lewis also comes to a point when he questions what state his wife is in after her passing.  They tell me that H is at peace. What makes them so sure of this?...Why should the separation (if nothing else) which so agonizes the lover who is left behind be painless to the lover who departs?  Does Jerry ache for me as much as I ache for him?  Somehow I picture him knowing my every thought, watching my every move, but how can I be so sure? I think that he has better access to me than I do currently to him.  It is all so confusing and there is so much that is really unknown.  I have so so many questions.

And then I remembered the dreams, so vivid, where he visited me reassuring me that he was whole, that he was always with me and that he loved me deeply.

I  continue to pray.  Thoughts of Jerry are a constant. I pray for reassurance that he is OK and that my family with time will be OK too.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

One Word

I walk into the local market to pick up some almond milk and one can of organic grain-free dog food.  I wander the aisles just in case I'm missing something important, but I feel much like a lost soul.  From aisle to aisle I discount we need more eggs, dried beans or mixed greens.  Careful about adhering to a budget, I put the two items on the conveyor belt, pay and head out the door.

While putting the cart away, I hug another basketball mom who I haven't run into since Jerry passed.  She asked what happened.  "Cancer.....all clear....sick all summer....no answers...pain." 

The word stuck in my throat.  Pain. My husband endured so so much.  I just lost it. 



Tuesday, April 4, 2017

WHAT MY CHILDHOOD TASTED LIKE

             
                               

Sea-salty steamed clams,                                
I remember the first time I ate them
dripping with melted butter                          
at Wormwood's Restaurant in Camp Ellis,
I think my mother cut me off,
I ate too many.

On hands and knees
in a vast field,
 I picked until my fingers were stained
red,
Little tart, sweet jewels
Wild strawberries.

My Gram pressed coins
into my hand
sending me to Reilly's Bakery
for eclairs,
the custard oozed
when bitten or the pastry was held too tight,
we indulged, just the two of us.

Peppermint stick ice cream
dripped down my hand,
down my arm to my elbow,
a melted flow,
my mother yelled, 'Lick!"
the napkin stuck to the sugar cone.

Root beer barrels, two for a penny,
I sat on the scratchy beach blanket
the candy rolling inside my mouth,
when I grew tired of root beer
I counted the licks to the center of a
cherry tootsie pop, until my tongue grew
tired.

  (This post is inspired by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.)            



Monday, April 3, 2017

Control and Order


The image begins to sharpen.
Before adjusting the lens
everything is a blur.
I see the little yellow birds feeding furiously.

For months now,
since shortly after Jerry's death
I have observed the living-
collecting data such as bird sightings and weather.

I thought that recorded observations would provide answers,
but instead
it prompts more questions.

Noisy jays visit one day and not the next,
this morning goldfinches perch
for the first time ever, feeding
while speckled starlings cling to the worn suet bag
and cooing mourning doves feed on the ground.

Carefully, I record the date,
the birds,
the temperature
and the weather.
I last filled the feeder yesterday.
Control and order
I realize
are really illusions.










Sunday, April 2, 2017

Anticipate, Plan and Hope

Jerry, Wispy clouds float in a sky blue,
most of the snow is gone
puddles dot the field,
the grass looks like shredded wheat,
lawn mowers sit undercover
waiting.

A squirrel darts from nowhere,
I grip the steering wheel tighter
and squeeze my eyes shut,
just for a second and exhale
thinking that was a close one
for that little guy.
How lucky.

I ran into the grocery store
the other day
at about 7 pm
the parking lot empty,
the store too quiet
I picked out a cantaloupe
on sale
unripened, too hard to eat.
It sat on the counter
until this morning I pierced the
webbed rind with the tip of the knife
and after a couple of cuts
I popped a chunk into my mouth
and I thought of you-
morning fruit medleys,
your favorite.

George our neighbor
met me half way between
our house and his
to open a bottle
of Maple Syrup
the one you bought me this summer,
my hand too weak to muster strength,
my heart too sad to
register all the ways
I miss you.

This is what the living do,
straddle between the before and after,
the what ifs and the what is,
the what was and what could have been.

Meanwhile, the compost needs to be dumped
near the strawberries you planted.
I can't help but wonder
what the harvest will yield.
On your hands and knees last spring
a year ago you anticipated years of picking
because that is what the living do,
Anticipate, plan and hope
For a future that may never come.

(This was inspired by Marie Howe's What the Living Do.)








Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Lumberjack


Stanley, the lumberjack is here.  So far he has cleaned out the ashes, started a fire and is now on his way to the dump to take care of the recyclables and trash.  When we closed the inn years ago, he stayed on with us at the log cabin.  It helped us and it kept him busy.  Jerry was his boss.  He and Jerry had grand plans-a vision.  Now, I must be the one to hold the visions and direct.
It's a big task.

This Saturday morning is strangely quiet. I miss Jerry.  I miss the hearty laughs and stories that Stanley and Jerry would exchange. I miss the delineations in our lives.  Jerry primarily dealt with heating, yard work/gardening and tinkering about the house.  Right now, I hold it all.

My vision is to simplify.  I know it will take time.  In the meantime, I must be patient, breathe and trust that all will be well. I am so grateful that little bits of my life remain the same.  It is good to have Stanley around now and again.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Want to Shake Up Your World?


Able to juggle the schedule of a household of nine to ten people, plus hold the responsibilities of teaching full time, I was always thankful for my memory, an ability to move herds of people and capable of finding tools to keep me organized.  (I use the label organized loosely, however, but that is another posting.) I have found that my brain is not functioning optimally these days, but it is getting better.

My knowledge of grief began in college and is based upon Kubler-Ross' work studying terminal patients. Since Kubler-Ross broke the silence on the subject of grief, for years her stages of grief were utilized for grieving survivors as well as patients.  Grief is not a linear path, nor is it the same for each person. When my parents died almost fifteen years ago, I thought that one day I would get over it.  And now in the aftermath of my husband's death, for me I am discovering that it is not something I can muscle through, but that I will be forever changed and will continue to evolve and adjust no longer as a couple, but as an individual, capable of joy and gratitude. I can continue to dance and learn to do it with a limp.

I like Anne Lamotte's take on grief:

“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

With grief comes self-discovery.  For the first few months, I could barely converse, losing memory of what I was trying to say mid-sentence.  I was understandably preoccupied.  The problem I found, there was so much to be done and it seems that everything is time sensitive and high stakes.  Undertakers, lawyers, insurance companies,  and are all categorized as important, BIG deals.  I needed my head on straight to make the best decisions for me and my family.

Yes, prayer helps.  Physical activity helps as does getting enough rest.  Family, friends and the community at large rallied around us.  All of this helped me get through each day, but I needed a 
peripheral brain.  Here enters the Bullet Journal; life changing for me.  

I cannot say enough about how it has helped me break down big tasks and beat back waves of feeling overwhelmed.  If offers the chance to write down monthly, weekly and daily goals and appointments. For fun, I keep track of birds I have observed and the weather.  My favorite musical artists are listed as are movies to watch, books to read and a diary of what I eat.  Extensive financial pages include a budget, an expense journal and a savings plan. It is my everything journal. The beauty of the Bullet Journal is that it can become whatever is useful for you, it is adaptable. For me the Bullet Journal frees my brain from storing everything I need to remember.

If you want to learn more about Bullet Journals, I highly recommend you start here. There are plenty of ideas on Pinterest and Bullet Journal groups on Face Book.  Let me know what you think.  It just might shake up your world.

The Freedom to Create



I ran my hand across the bolts of fabric organized by color and arranged by shade as I walked down the aisle; batik prints and patterns, some metallic-really works of art.  Up and down I walked, pausing to admire and breathe deeply.  I got the same exact feeling I get at Art Museums, one of peace, serenity and a connection to everything possible.

Getting lost on Pinterest is easy, but I had chosen a small project with fat quarters that I could sew by hand.  My artsy daughter and I headed for the table with the fat quarters.  A knack for color and what fabrics may work together, she offered set after set of possibilities.  Soon I was headed out of the store with a pair of scissors (I immediately marked them with a Sharpie: FABRIC), straight pins, a pin cushion and a floral fabric with coordinating colors. You can tell I am not an avid "fabric-ator."

With a cup of tea nearby, and Netflix I sewed and sewed without expectations for a timeline or quality. I thought of my grandmother, sewing throughout the day tackling one by one the items in her mending basket.  This was out of necessity and probably satisfaction, but not pleasure. Fortunately, I am free to create and have fun. These days I am working hard enjoying the process and not stressing about an end product. Perfectionism gone. My origami bag/lunch bag will be a work of art.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Thoughts While Changing the Cat Box


Lately, I contemplate life while I sift through the cat box.  Really.  

My husband's sense of smell was pretty weak, so I would mention that the cat box was odorous.

"Your turn.  I did it last time.  As a matter of fact I've done it for the last three times," my voice is balance between firm and sickly sweet. I feign that my attention is fully spent on the book I am reading, but I am really waiting for him to pounce on the cat box, watching him out of the corner of my eye.

Nothing.

"Wow," a few minutes later I just can't help it, "I know that you can't smell a thing, but it really, really stinks." My voice changes to understanding and pleading.

I glance over to my husband.  I am not sure he has even heard me.  His nose is in a book.

Tonight, I contemplate my suddenly changed life as I sift the cat box.  How I miss my husband.  He did his fair share of cat box duty. I am sure of it.

Changes

The freezing rain sitting on top of the layer of snow is soft underfoot, but will  ice over by morning.  The salt sits by the door in a impractical plastic bag with handles. Not trusting the handles, carrying it from the car and into the house, I nestle it against my body like I would a baby.   Early in the winter, I found a large tin can that holds enough salt to cover the steps and then some.   I broadcast the salt on the steps and walkway in the same way I would feed the chickens leftover cooked rice. I know what I am dealing with when it comes to winter, so far I have survived.

Despite the cold, the snow and ice there is evidence that the ground is thawing. Puddles and mud are abundant.  As the seasons change, so must there be a shift in my thinking and planning.  I realize that I am so unprepared for this next season.  I don't know what to expect.  I don't even know if I have a working lawnmower to manage the nearly 5 acres of lawn.


The challenges that winter has brought are faced day by day.  When I need help, it comes.   Spring is just another season with different set of challenges that I will face day by day.  When I need help, I will get it.  All I have to do is ask and trust that all will be well.

Monday, March 27, 2017

my room



Months passed before I realized the florescent stars that our son strategically placed about the room, twinkle above my head.  Each night I slip into bed, lay my head on the pillow and say a prayer or two with my eyes closed.  What else have I missed in the darkness?
  
Early mornings when the room fills with sun, three  cats  routinely lounge on the bed, doze and wake to watch the birds light on the feeder.  Every plant in the house is pushed against the south-facing window.  The red geranium is in bloom, a few petals loosened and lay on a leaf.   Narcissus bulbs forced propped against small rocks in antique pottery stand tall and green with a delicate array of white flowers.  Books are piled near the bed. Another stack sits near a chair, close to the window.  Here, I  watch the birds feed, read or sip tea. I sew.  I knit.   I write.  I contemplate life. I pray here.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Short Selfie


A few pounds and born early
Make for a "hopeless case."
My mother prayed to St. Jude.
I lived.

As a kid I got car sick, 
Preferring the shade of forest trees,
Splashing in the salty sea or
Alone in a field
Fingers pink with wild berries-
I ate them as I picked.

I sing with the radio
Often the wrong words.
Baking pies is not my thing,
Picnics are.

I have slept
Floating in the middle of a lake,
Watching the stars fall.

War scares me.
I am not afraid of the dark.
Reading five books at once
Makes me nuts.
I like naps
And I consider myself 
Among the few 
Lucky enough to have found
True Love.

(Inspired by and Adapted from: A Short Collective Biography-Amy Krouse Rosenthal found in Textbook)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Dreams




Sitting in the heat of the sun, I plucked plump blackberries popping them into my mouth one by one. Savoring.   Biting into the seeds, the flavor burst through my mouth.

I must partake of the bounties offered to me in this life.  I mindfully accept and if need be will reach for what there is breathing in gratitude aware that I am nourished and supported.

A striped multi-colored hat umbrella sits on my head.

I roll over and think:  Playfulness and joy is part of living.  Life will bring rain, but make the best of it.

Jerry is packing for a trip alone to Florida to stay with a friend.  He is sick.  It is clear that this is his journey.  I want to come, but a man in a van passing out flyers for trash removal takes my attention away and I yearn to return to Jerry who is slowly packing the car.  I remember I just want to be with him for however long we have.  I am unsure he will make the journey.  There is anxiety.  I have no choice, but to let him go.

I had no choice.  Presently the details of my life distract me.   The kids.  The house.  Cooking.  Filing.  Dust bunnies.  Crunching the snow beneath my feet.  Listening to the birds sing.  Blessings on this earth continue without Jerry.  He wouldn't want it any other way.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Island Guru



Living here on this
Island for nearly 40 years,
I still don't know which mountain is which.
You knew.
I didn't have to remember.
I had you.

I carried the notion
That you would
Live
Forever.
The ageless,
The tireless
Workhorse.

This summer
I will
Climb each
Summit,
And with each step,
I will remember you,
My Island Guru.

Post Script:  My husband and I purchased, renovated and opened the second B and B in Bar Harbor in 1984 and named it The Cove Farm Inn.  Bed and Breakfasts  were the rage.  It was the perfect fit for my husband.  As a native of Bar Harbor, he explored every nook and cranny of the island from the time he was a young boy until this past summer of 2016.  He shared his passion of MDI and Acadia National Park with the guests we welcomed from all over the world. He was referred to as "The Island Guru."  Visitors returned year after year.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Clinomania



Clinomania (n) an excessive desire to stay in bed.

Most days, I bound out of bed ready for a new day.  Not today.  Sleeping for ten hours did nothing to allay my fatigue.  Under the weight of comforters and blankets, I begin to thumb through the reasons for my lack of energy and either disregard or verify each as a possible cause.

Maybe I'm coming down with something?  I swallow hard-no sore throat. No headache either.  My stomach is OK, too.  I guess I am alright.  Just tired.  Wait, it's my thyroid.  It is true, I blame everything on my thyroid.  No.  Just tired, that's all.

My life is altered.  My brain does not function as it once did.  CS Lewis describes, "... it feels like being mildly drunk or concussed...I find it hard to take in what anyone says." I understand this all too well-this grief.

No, I am unable to function as I once did.  I often ask for help feeling like I am hoisting my widow-status for service.  I find that I have trouble carrying loads of wood up the cellar stairs, so I don't think I ought to try to replace the washer in the basement with another in storage.  I need my boys.  Having always had a fear of chopping off multiple fingers and toes, I won't handle a hatchet or an axe, either. I call on a family friend who is a real Maine Lumberjack.  Physical challenges abound, but so do the intellectual ones.   Sometimes, I trip over my words when I speak. I often have to ask for things to be repeated as my brain can only take so much information in.  Rather than become victim to despair, I recognize that this is grief.  No one expects me to be fixed.  Things will get better in time.  Right now I need to be gentle.  I need to treat myself as I would a dear friend. Tonight after a hot shower, I think I will put myself to bed with a good book and a cup of chamomile tea.  I have an excessive desire to go to bed and stay there. That is more than alright.

The Whisperer

"Did you smell it? Did you?" It was all the buzz at school.  The radius of aroma was far reaching, but there was no evidence of the source.  They say that smell activates memory...

                                Jerry is in the middle.  The youngest boy of three.


"Get that thing out of here. Now!"  I imagined his father barking from his chair, CB in hand.  Jerry  would catch skunks by the tail, putting his hand over the gland.  He claims that prevented them from spraying.   Dangling head down (picture the swaying),  I imagine the skunk was lulled to sleep or too shocked and scared to move, I don't know.  The rough and tumble tow headed boy, my husband was once a skunk whisperer.

I can't remember why he stopped catching skunks, but I have my guesses.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Running

                                                                          Winter Sea

I didn't always like it.  I wanted a life beyond work and bed.  Some cold nights we were snuggled under the layers of covers soon after we ate and the dishwasher was loaded. When I begged him to stay up he responded, "I work hard; I'm tired.  My work is physical...'Night."

Sighing, I hugged him a bit tighter, wrapping my arm around his torso and forcing myself to sleep, when all I wanted to do was get up and play Parcheesi or sit at either end of the couch and stare at each other.  Nothing was worse than coaxing your body to sleep when it isn't ready.  My husband was indeed weary. Instead,  I listened to his even snoring, our bodies fitting perfectly together and soon we were both asleep.

Jerry's passing at the end of October allowed me a few months to prepare for the sometimes brutal impact of a New England winter especially on the coast.  Towns have been shut down for weeks with no electricity and roads impassable-a glare of ice.  Winds can gust to hurricane force.  Access to food, gas and medical services under these conditions can be a challenge.  Jerry loved storms.  He prepared as much as he would prepare for a storm. He knew where the shovel was, the candle and matches sat on the counter and a jugs of water either for flushing or for drinking was handy.  I never worried about salting the steps, clearing the steps, paths or our long bumpy driveway.  During storms, I read or knitted.  He did all the work.  So an approximate six weeks lapse between fall and winter helped me to ease into all the responsibilities that come with winter. I now do the work of two and all the while think of all that Jerry did to make life easy for me.  I do the laundry, dishes, meals, clean up and take care of the dogs and cats. I tend to the wood stove, finances and shopping.  I run from about 5:30 am until 11 pm. I am exhausted despite help too from family and friends.

Tonight, it is just after 8, my eyes close, my chin touches my chest and the book nearly drops out of my hand.  I think back to our early evening, winter cuddles.   I never imagined that this would be his last winter; the last winter of fending off his wife's cold feet and finally relenting-warming them, his body a furnace. How glorious it would be to return, if only for a few seconds;to feel the curve of his shoulders, run my fingers through his hair, and to inhale his familiar scent. I would like to sleep too.

Instead, now I play multi-roles.  You understand.  I am grateful.  And I am plain exhausted.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Lunch is Served



One by one, my classmates moved until I was left sitting alone at the long table. 


St. Mary's didn't offer hot lunch like all the other schools did in the city, so we had to bring our lunches from home.  Some who lived a short distance from the school, went home for lunch.  I don't remember much about what was usually in my lunch box aside from fruit like an apple, four cookies (four was the house limit) and a sandwich either peanut butter and jelly or sliced meat. I recall one day that I brought sardines to school.  It didn't go well.

I loved sardines. After school my father and I would often share a tin on saltine crackers.  It was a bonding experience as we both smacked our lips in utter satisfaction.  The intense fish flavor paired with the crunchy saltines became a favorite snack.   One day my mother packed me a sandwich-sardines on soft white bread and a smear of mayonnaise. The wax paper that it was wrapped in did little to trap the fishy smell.  So when I undid the folds of the wax paper in order to eat the sandwich the smell wafted quickly, assaulting the noses of every child in the large room where the entire school ate at once.  This room was in the basement of an old brick building where both my grandmother (at age 4) and my father attended.  There were no windows that opened and the two exit doors at top of each opposite stairway leading to the first floor did little to alleviate the odor.  Three or four long tables were arranged end to end and lined horizontally to accommodate about one hundred kids.

Placing the contents of a can of sardines between two pieces of bread was a messy affair. Eating it was worse.  The oil that the little fish were packed in  dripped everywhere and the bread pressed thin and became soggy in places; the oil oozing through the holes in the bread.  The sight of it all and the smell was just too much.

A few weeks after this lunch-time disaster, my mother with sardine can in hand began wrapping the metal tab of the tin around a key in preparation of packing my lunch another sandwich.  She stopped amidst my screaming,  "Ma, please, please don't give me sardines again.  Please no."

"A sardine sandwich was my favorite lunch.  That or a bean sandwich.  'Want a bean sandwich?"my mother asked, her voice light and promising.

That day I ate lunch with my friends and the peanut butter stuck to the roof of my mouth.

Him



The escapes come often and frequently.  I sit in my wing back chair poised to watch a film.  The slab of chocolate and broken pieces lay on the opened wrapper, my toes touch the floor pointed, raising my knees to  intentionally cradle the contents in my lap.  Birthday chocolate. Precious cargo. These days, I avoid buying chocolate for myself because I have no control.

I guess you could say that we balanced each other out.  This wasn't always the perfect in paradise kind of love.  He loved to eat meat, while I prefer plant based proteins.  He liked the bedroom cold, while I preferred heat.  A soft hearted soul whose kids could talk him into just about anything, especially if it was adventurous and a bit risky, my husband was always full of surprises.  I, on the other hand am more practical and I'd like to think more controlled and logical.  An impulsive, fly by the seat of your pants kind of guy versus a planner, a list maker. We pretty much kept to our roles through over 36 years of marriage, until this summer.

My husband, Jerry never missed a day of work except a few days here and there during hospitalization or following surgery.  This summer, despite lingering unexplained fatigue and pain, he worked through it. Some days it took all of his will to get out of bed, but he made it to work.  In the late afternoon, he would drag himself to the bedroom and lay down.   This summer, work required all of him so by the time he got home, he was spent.

Nearly, everyday for three years, we played Parcheesi.  He was a competitor.  The captain of his football team, a state champion pole vaulter, my husband was tenacious.  These competitive tendencies worked to his benefit while playing board games, too.  Despite feeling rotten, most days this summer he played parcheesi.  He held a stash of Dove Chocolate in the freezer, in a yogurt container labeled, "Frozen Corn."  We were both as serious about our ration of chocolate, as we were about our game. Some nights it was hard to discern whether we played to play or we played to eat chocolate.  In unusual restraint, he allowed us two bits of candy. No more. Both of my candies were unwrapped and devoured before he took his first bite. I always begged for more.  "Can I have one more, please?  Please?  Just one?  Then no more, I promise."

In an unusual stance, he refused my request, " No, save it for later.  We each get two." He wasn't a guy that said no.

I looked at the board and thought about swiping off the smears of chocolate with a sponge after the game.  Seconds later, thinking he might relent. "Chocolate, please?"

Again, I heard, "No."  Strangely, the back and forth resembled an exchange with one of our teenagers.
Night after night played out in a similar fashion.  He held me to two pieces, despite my protests and attempts to wear him down.

Now, I sit in my wing back chair, shoving thick pieces of European chocolate into my mouth.  The first chunk barely melted in my mouth before I shove more in.  I have lost interest in the movie, and  I am not really aware of the quantity of chocolate I have consumed, that is until I look down in my lap and see there are two little pieces left.  Carefully the remaining pieces are wrapped and tucked away for another time.

Everything reminds me of him.  I eat.  I eat.  It does little to fill me up. Vignettes of our life, of him settle in my head replaying. I thought it was the chocolate, but really, I can't get enough...of him.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

on the lookout



It takes two hours for a snowflake to fall from cloud to earth. Can't you just see its slow peaceful decent?-Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Reading this, I snapped the book closed, and without thought clasped my hands together as if in prayer and sighed.  The discovery of this miracle made me stop in wonderment.  Literally, it took my breath away. I stared into nothingness and felt the awe.  I mean I really felt it.  For some reason, I looked out the window.  On cue, (no joke) puffy snow flakes were lightly falling.  Air catching under each, the decent was slow and peaceful. Moments later it stopped.

Rosenthal writes about serendipity which she seems to equate with coincidence.  Serendipity woke me early having checked FB, a friend posted an article claiming that research shows eating chocolate cake for breakfast is good for the brain and for the waistline.  I was all over that.  Before sunrise and before I downed my first almond milk latte, I had fork-full by fork-full indulged in a wedge of leftover birthday cake.

serendipity
If you like something, you tend to be on the lookout for it.  And if you're on the lookout for it, you tend to find it, or it-Yoo-hoo! Over here!-finds you.  And so it goes, for me, with serendipity and coincidence.  It's something I like, so it's something I notice and attract. -Amy Krouse Rosenthal

This morning, serendipity found me, and I am over the moon excited for what might become today and tomorrow. I think of serendipity as miracles, however small.  Notice, attract, repeat. Notice, attract, repeat. I will be on the lookout, will you?




Friday, March 17, 2017

He Loves Me


Every birthday for the last 35, he would wake me gently, his lips pressing upon my ear, caressing. "I love you, gorgeous. I love you beautiful.  Happy Birthday." It was the first sweet greeting of another new year. 

Today is my birthday.  It is 2 am.  I can't sleep.  My mind wanders to the fact that this year Jerry will not whisper his love on my birthday.  The tears well up in the outer corner of my eyes, but don't flow.  My heart feels crushed.  It aches. Tears then run freely.

I lay in the darkness.  The dog near.  One cat on the extra pillow near my head.  Another nestled at my side.  I try to breathe, slow deep breaths to clear my head and inflate my heart.  I lay on my back, staring at the fluorescent stars on the ceiling of my son's former room, now mine.  "Come...in a dream.  Come please. Just come...it's my birthday..." My words desperate.  It would be my fix for the day. The perfect "gift."

Then, I think how Jerry had a mind of his own.  Once he had something in his head, there was no stopping him or convincing him of another course.   He would wander off and not tell me where he was for hours, despite my worry.  An independent, free spirit when he had something he wanted to do, he did it. He jumped out of a plane, waiting until I was on the west coast, and far away to do it. And he told me about it after he had done it. He knew I would worry and try to stop him. When we were trying to cut down on meat, he would come home now and again with a big slap of beef, the size my mother would feed to our entire family. He would sit down and eat it himself with butter melted on top.  My look of disgust, resulted in a remark, between bites, "I know what I like."

I am laughing out loud.  Alone.  I remember just how stubborn he was. 'Bet he still is, I ponder.

Then I realize, that despite my begging, he may come to me in a dream or maybe he won't. My mind desperate to find resolution and peace, wanders. I think of a pile of daisy petals fluttering to the ground.  He loves me.  He loves me, not. I know with certainty, he loves me and always will.

Rex with his nose nestled into his front paws is sleeping. I hear his breathing. Julie purrs, kneading the blankets until she finds a spot to curl.  I slip into a bed exhausted with the crazy ride of emotions and the fact that it is nearly 4 am. I feel so much better remembering I am blessed; I am loved.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

All Will Be Well

After, we walked in silence back to his work place, so he could finish the day.  There was nothing much to say, that we couldn't say without words. I think that is what happens when you have waited so long to hear good news.  His hand in mine, we stopped and listened to the cardinals and scanned the tree tops for scarlet.   The song was from all directions.  We stood.  He bent down and kissed me on the lips gently.  "I love you, beautiful."  Overcome, the tears came and he wrapped his arms around me kissing the top of my head.

I had heard the cardinal song several times on the day of his cancer diagnosis, six weeks earlier.  It was as if they were following me from Bucksport, through Orland, Ellsworth and finally Bar Harbor.  I heard their song and felt a rush of peace and thought, Don't worry, all will be well.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

True Love




My husband built me a bridge to span
Across rushing water
Barren and silent in summer,
Thinning ice in spring,
The stream swells
To overflowing.


He strung a hand hold of
Ropes up the muddy banking
So I could scramble
Alone
Up
And scale
Down
Without a slip.


This walk
Gave us both peace
Any season,
Roots twist like veins
Along the path
Leading to the wide open field,
Where Rex
His ears lay flat
Runs at full tilt.
Woods edge the field
Rex leads the way,
Through the forest,
Blueberry barrens and blow-downs.

A remembrance of true love,
A wooden bridge
Spans a stream,
Waiting for me to cross.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Just What Is Going On?



I gently peel back the curtain, carefully revealing the light of day. A frenzy of jays are on the ground and on the platform feeder gorging.  A lone chickadee flits from branch to twig waiting a turn.  A couple of mourning doves feed on the mounds of seed that have fallen to the ground,  the result of the fights between flocks and the gulping appetite of aggressive jays.  A lone crow, slight compared to the thickness of the ravens who visited a few days ago is perched high in the craggy apple tree. Simultaneously a downy woodpecker flutters for space on the suet, the bigger hairy woodpecker gave notice and makes room. It is as entertaining as watching a three-ring circus. For three months, I have kept a log weather and of activity at the feeder.  For three months I have never witnessed a mix of birds feeding at once, always jays with jays, chickadees with chickadees and titmouse alone with their own kind.  Just what is going on?

For days we have been anticipating a big winter storm with nearly two feet of snow.  I think the birds are getting ready.  Keith Carson, our local weatherman says we are "going to be crushed!" I can't wait.

Monday, March 13, 2017

It's Just Messy

Yesterday I couldn't get past stepping out of the shower dripping wet and feeling assaulted by the 22 degree below temperatures that sneak through the cracks in the doors and windows of my house. I seldom skip a daily shower. Today, I couldn't get past the fact that I didn't take a shower yesterday and felt just plain grimy, so I reached in the shower and stuck my hand under the spray to test it.  It had to be hot.

I stepped in and started to rub the soap onto the nylon mesh ball.  Jerry had a stockpile of his favorite French milled soap.  I ordered it every month for him two or three bars at a time.  During this phase of showering I always think of him.  He never used a washcloth or a mesh ball, instead he held the bar and kind of rolled it around both hands to gather a lather.

Days after he died, I took the sliver of soap that he last used, dried it and tucked it in the top drawer with my underwear and passport.  I can't explain why.  Maybe in time of grief no explanation is necessary.  I often act on a need; a deep unexplained need and I just go with it. This is a strange time in my life; a mishmash of emotion that cannot be fully understood.  I feel like one with multiple personalities, often confused by the swirl of opposing emotions.  One moment I feel intense joy, while in seconds waves of sorrow overcome me.  There are times of clarity and times of uncertainty.   Sometimes fear wraps me and strangles, while later I may feel the excitement of opportunity and freedom. None of it makes sense.

I run my fingers over the top of the smooth oval, the soap showing signs of wear through the vein-like lines that run through it.  I bring it to my nose, inhale and tuck it back in the drawer for safe-keeping. Mango scent, one of his favorites.

Each day following prayer, I am quiet if only for a few minutes,  listening to what I need. It may be simple like skipping a shower on a cold day or saving my husband's soap and handling it like an artifact of the MFA. I don't always have to have a logical reason for what I do.  I just do it, act on my intuition. Grief is messy.  Grief is complex and sometimes the wave of varying emotions are confusing and make no sense.  It just is-what it is.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Importance of a Life

He raised his head from his cell phone, our eyes met, "Whatya' think, five or six years old?"

Silent, I wasn't sure whether I should nod or shake my head.  "'Haven't a clue, really.  I have trouble remembering how old I am." I couldn't believe this guy could remember how old my washer was! Wow, he's really passionate about machines.

"If it sounds like a lear jet, then the bearings are gone. It's not worth it to fix it." My washer has seen better days, witness to smelly athletic socks and pockets filled with nails.  Four out of eight kids were still in the house when I first purchased it all those years ago.   Guaranteed multiple loads on Saturdays and through the week here and there gave it regular, intense work outs.

Hogan, the appliance guy pushed this button and that one at the same time, while he read the codes off of his phone to bypass the system and diagnose the problem.  The drum turned and the water splashed against the glass door.

"It's loud, but there's no grinding sound-at least that I can remember," my voice sounded like it was coaxing my washer toward health; urging  it to accept repair.

After about 20 minutes of button pushing and water sloshing, the lear jet took off.  I need a new washer.

Soon after the bad news, Hogan emerged from his van with an invoice. During his house call, I communicated how persistent I was in locating him for his service.  It had been maybe six weeks that we have limped by without a washer; my adult daughter mixing our few pairs of socks and underwear with hers.  All that while, I called people, "Hey, do you know a guy named Hogan who does appliance repair?  He's really good.  We've had him before. 'Just don't know his number." I searched the internet and purposely knocked on a few doors in search of Hogan. Finally, a desperate plea on FB uncovered his whereabouts in less than five minutes and within fifteen minutes I had an appointment scheduled for the next day.

While I wrote a check, Hogan slapped a magnet with his contact information on my refrigerator.  He stepped back eyeing the disarray of photos, art work and a eclectic mix of magnets, some having lost their full capacity to hold anything. 
"Oh, you have one already. See?" He pointed to his magnet that had slid down the door to about belt height.  

"What?" I couldn't believe it.  Long ago, my husband had placed Hogan's magnet for easy access displayed next to other important things like the pediatrician's magnet and a homemade over-sized birthday card from my daughter.

If only I had known that I had his number all the time.   I could have saved myself a lot of frustration.   Since my husband's death, I realize there is so much that I don't know. For instance, I don't know anything about the wood furnace so it sits cold in 22 degree below weather.  We thought we had a little time.  Time to talk about the working details of the house, the lawn mower and the plow truck. Instead his last days were spent talking about love.  My mind is sometimes preoccupied in a swirl of complications.  I try not to dwell on all that I don't know.  I try not to be consumed by my responsibility of carrying the role of single mother and widow.  There is so much my husband did impart to me that was really more important. He taught me how to be compassionate and kind.  He taught me to be generous with my knowledge and time - imparting virtues over knowledge.  Everyday with him was a gift. I miss him.  Oh God, how I miss him.



Saturday, March 11, 2017

Too Busy to Bother


Hobbling through the door after a long day of work,  he made a limping beeline to the couch, situated not too far from the door.  He sat and grunted to pull off one work boot and one sock; both removed nearly in one, quick motion.

"What's wrong?  What are you doing?" I asked my husband.

"I've had a rock in my boot all day. 'Never had time. 'Til now." He cupped the culprit in the palm of his hand for me to see.  It was far bigger than I expected.

"It IS a ROCK! How the heck did you work all day without stopping to take it out?  It must have hurt."

"It did," he replied.  "I have a blister now."

Some learn the hard way.  My "boy" hobbled for days.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Relief

Yesterday was one of those days when I woke in darkness at 5:15 AM and screeched through the day at top speed until I rested my head on the pillow at about 11:20 PM.   My husband and I were the progressive couple (sort of) he did just about anything around the house from changing the cat box to getting down on his hands and knees and scrubbing the floor.  He did groceries, changed diapers, went to the dentist with the kids and taught them how to drive. I didn't have to bother with outside work like snow and trash removal nor did I have to risk splinters in my hand hauling split logs for the wood stove.   For a few months now, sadly I have negotiated life without him.  The details  of caring for a house and children are all mine now. My days are full. So it is no surprise that at 11:20 PM, I was finally able to tend to my needs. I noticed my ear had been throbbing.

Normally, I change my earrings regularly, however I have worn the same pair in since Christmas day.   My 19 year old son, who is in the Army gifted me a diamond necklace and earrings to match.  Aside from homemade cards and a fistful of flowers I received, this was the very first present he bought me with his own money. It is difficult to fully express how deeply this touched me. Diamond earrings.  I had never had a pair.  I just didn't want to lose them so particular attention was devoted to screwing the backs securely on the posts. Obsessively, I check to make sure I have both and that there is no risk of losing them.

My right ear throbbed.  The earring was on too tight. Quiet and in bed, the pain intensified.  I reached my left hand over to the back of my right lobe.  I twisted the back, but I was not sure which direction would release it.  It pained so. I turned one way, then got nervous and turned the other way. This uncertainty went on for about 15 minutes.

Ordinarily, my husband who has combed through tangles in my hair, dropped everything to scratch my back and massaged my feet without complaining would certainly have attempted to grasp and untwist a tiny earring back on my behalf.  Instead, I needed to find help.

"Eddaejia?" I yelled to my daughter.  Waited for a reply, but all there was was silence.  After all, it was the middle of the night; she was asleep.  It was clear I needed help and soon.  By morning she would be racing around, make-up and hair with no time to help me.  I would look elsewhere.

 I work among angels.  People who truly care for each other. Really.  My friend attempted to release my throbbing ear from the vice, but stopped.  Waving her hands she squealed, "I don't want to hurt you."

"You can't hurt me anymore than I'm already hurt," I  replied.

Right on cue, a colleague with young children steps through the door.  My friend asks her to help.  She bends down to look at my ear. "OOOH,: she says long and drawn out, a tone that carries bad news.

"What? That doesn't sound good." I look up at her, trying to read her face.

"'Just swollen," she replies. Undeterred she grabs the earring back and begins to twist. "Righty tighty, lefty loosey."  Within minutes both earrings are removed and I feel some relief.

For days, I ignored my pain until it was constant.  With no one available to help me at home, I relied on those I work with. How very lucky I am to work in such a kind and supportive place.  It is just another reminder of how I am surrounded empathetic, compassionate people.  I bet they would even give me a good back scratch, if I asked.  How lucky am I?